A Touch of Christmas

Starting with a sketch I block in the Robin with a mix of trans  pyrrol orange and Hansa yellow (medium) on the breast and vandyke brown with a touch of cobalt blue dropped in on the back.  Blues and Browns make gorgeous greys


Before s/he is completely dry I paint in the background with a mix of White Nights green and a green gold. The lazy painters choice. I’ve been looking up mixing greens on You Tube with the intention of cracking this bad habit and have posted the link on Facebook (look for Art Classes BN3). When I started painting with watercolour the choice of yellows was somewhat limited and involved using cadmiums,  which are gorgeous but quite opaque and lift off the paper very easily, muddying subsequent layers. Nowadays there is far more choice of clean transparent yellows and I’ve opted for the Hansa yellows, a translucent yellow (PY150), and quinacridone gold. Cadmium yellows do magic things too, and will explore this in a subsequent blog. Even at this early stage of the Robin I’m looking for a variety of tone and I make the bottom right area much deeper by dropping in more pigment and the top right lighter by dropping in water.


The shaded area of his/her body is a mix of yellow ochre with a little cobalt blue bleeding into it. Water and pigment is added to most of the areas painted, the paint always kept wet at this stage so it moves, creating those typical watercolour surprises. If I want a deeper tone I just keep feeding the existing painted area with more richly mixed but still very wet paint.


I then add the post and the robins legs and feet  as one shape, wait for it to dry, then paint in the the deeper tones of the post to create his feet as a negative shape. I also start to find both negative and positive leaf shapes in the background, and add a suggestion of feathers on the wing. By this time I’ve switched from a medium Chinese brush to one with a fine point


The final touches are the beak and the eye.

Happy Christmas!

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